Must have features in Online Planning Poker tool

Most Agile teams around the world use planning poker techniques to estimate their product backlogs. It is a consensus based estimating technique used to determine the effort, time or complexity of the development stories.

There are many techniques that make the estimation process easier. In this blog we help you find the best tool in the market for your team’s workflow. We have compiled a list of key features you need to consider while evaluating a planning poker tool.

Planning Poker tool - key features

Following is a list of key features you want to consider when evaluating an online planning poker tool for your team.

1. Integrations with project management tools like Jira

Import issues from Jira: Most of the agile teams are already using tools like Jira, Trello, Azure, TFS to track and manage their team’s projects. Project management tools like Jira aid in managing tasks for your scrum team. You can create sprints and keep a tab on the task progress and with a planning poker tool that integrates with Jira it would be easier to pull stories from your already defined Sprints.

For example, say Jira issues from the backlog and keep it open for estimation.

Sync results back to Jira: A planning poker tool should provide end-to-end synchronization to your scrum team. The tool should automate the final result with the Jira issue to eliminate the additional step of updating the results manually.

2. Automatic scheduling

Ideally a planning poker tool should be designed to cut down manual process in planning and arranging meeting logistics by supporting automatic scheduling. Automatic scheduling will also be a point of benefit for teams that operate from different locations.

3. Time-zone aware

If your team is distributed across the globe then a planning poker tool that incorporates the time difference becomes an important aspect to be covered. Asynchronous voting allows your team to vote from anywhere at any time and it could be preferable to allow the participants to vote in advance at their comfortable time of the day. The facilitator can later collect the votes, have a discussion if required and get it updated to the development stories. It also ensures maximum team participation.

4. Accuracy

During an online estimation exercise, each team member use their individual login to file their estimations and the facilitator is the only one who sees all the estimates of the team members and calls for a discussion if needed and can see the aggregated estimate before syncing back to the stories, ensuring no falsy estimation on the stories.

5. Works well on Slack

The online planning poker tool should work well on the free version of Slack, ensuring convenience for your team members to participate from anywhere on their online workspace.

6. Trackable

A planning poker tool should have a record of how the story was estimated which will help in assessing your team’s engagement and contribution to the estimation exercises. An online planning poker tool should have access to all past data alongside details of previous sessions and final results.

7. Supports multiple platforms

The online planning poker tool should be designed to work on multiple platforms including desktop, iOS, and Android platforms, making it convenient for the team to participate from anywhere and on any device.

8. Supports multiple teams

It does not justify the efforts and time you put in for a tool if it does not support large and multiple teams. Ideally the tool should be designed to expand for larger agile teams as well as additional teams.

9. Supports discussion for story point estimate

During an estimation session, your team might need to reconsider or discuss the values before reaching the final result hence the planning poker tool should provide a discussion platform for the same. Having a space to evaluate the results at the point of its origin will save time that your team might lose hopping through multiple platforms in order to discuss.

10. Export report

The planning poker tool should facilitate report sharing and exportation across platforms with your team and shareholders.

Why conduct planning poker sessions asynchronously?

A typical planning poker session is manual and requires one person to coordinate the meeting logistics and take notes during the meeting. Again they have to follow up with the participants on further discussions and action items. This can both be a tedious and error prone process. Also it is not the best use of everybody’s time when there are more than a few participants. And if the team is remote and distributed across different time zones, getting everyone together in a virtual meeting room is also difficult. This is where Asynchronous online planning poker tools come handy and can be used effectively with the teams.

Asynchronous Planning Poker solution in Slack

Troopr offers online planning poker solutions for distributed agile teams with Jira and Slack integration. It runs directly on the browser connecting multiple participants in a real-time story points estimation session.

The team members can participate in the estimation session by asynchronously filing their votes from Slack. Troopr integrates with Jira seamlessly to pull in the stories already defined in Sprints for estimation and automatically updates the issue story points when the voting is completed and agreed with the team.

Troopr offers industry standard story point themes to keep the team engaging and productive. The facilitator can set up Troopr to pull in the Jira user stories to send it to the participants. The participants can individually file their votes from Slack. The aggregated report of the participant response is sent to the facilitator and can also be shared in the team’s Slack channel. The facilitator can then initiate a discussion with the team members in Slack if needed or the story points can be automatically synced back and updated to the Jira user stories at a click of a button. No more manual stuff and hence minimizing false estimations and errors from manual processes.

Also Troopr keeps a record of past data, meeting status and allows you to review recent stories and how they were estimated. This report is available on web portal as well and can be shared to Stakeholders in Slack.

Set up asynchronous Planning Poker sessions in Slack

Once you have installed Troopr Slack bot, you can automate a number of workflows including conducting online planning poker sessions directly in Slack. It is a simple 3 step process:

1.Configure scheduling options

Schedule planning poker

2. Select Jira issues and configure story point options

Custom planning poker questions

3. Configure reporting options

Planning poker reporting

Here is a video that covers the automation process of Planning Poker Check-ins from Slack.

Conduct other scrum ceremonies in Slack

Troopr goes beyond automating planning power sessions and allows your team to automate most common Scrum ceremonies in Slack including daily standups, retrospectives and more. Troopr Slack bot also comes with customizable scheduling, reporting options, web reports, history reports, analytics and Jira integrations for all the Scrum ceremonies.

As long the estimation sessions actually get done and are productive, the how is upto you. If you are going to try out an online planning poker tool, Troopr ticks on all the boxes for the must-have features that your team needs and is easy to use.

Troopr is designed to fit teams of any size and is already trusted by 1000s of agile teams worldwide including at Delivery Hero, Electronic Arts, Accenture and more.

Get started by installing Troopr from Atlassian marketplace or Slack App Directory.

Getting started with Troopr Slack bot

Step 1: Choose the Planning Poker Check-ins and add the team members that would like to participate in the estimation exercise. Choose a manual or automated schedule to run the Check-ins.

Step 2: Select Jira issue(s) manually or specify a JQL for the issues for which the estimation is to be done (your Jira account should be integrated with your Slack account before this step)

Step 3: Choose the poker session duration and customize report delivery in Slack.

Getting started with Troopr Slack bot

Click here to learn about Instant planning poker

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